What’s the Problem?

How often do we hear things like: “They’re aren’t enough donors.” “There’s too much competition.”

These sorts of proclamations often come from a sense that the whole fundraising thing is just too complicated and the odds stacked against the little guys.

Balderdash! It’s really rather simple—and technology is making it simpler by the year.

Being successful in fundraising is about identifying the problem. It’s about ceasing the problem denials and focus on what really needs fixing.

Principle 7 of The Eight Principles is Renew & Refresh™. To have a sustainable philanthropic revenue stream that also scales upward, you must renew your current donors at the highest possible rate.

I once was present in a meeting between a university president and the members of his corporate advisory counsel. John, the president, was bemoaning the static and somewhat declining enrollment throwing the problem on the table for the members to solve. One of those present put their finger right on it. John, this man intoned, you don’t have an enrollment problem, you’ve got a retention problem.

The university president took it well—surprisingly well—given his ego. But the businessman was right.

So too, with the national donor retention rate just below 40%, the key limiter for so many fundraising programs isn’t the lack of new donors, it’s in keeping the ones they already have.

You see it’s far cheaper to expend the effort to maintain a relationship than to initiate a new one. Your solid-friends, your investors, will also support you at much higher levels, as well.

I’ll take a handful of truly dedicated investors over a crowd of day-traders any day.

Now that’s a sustainable fundraising idea!

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